A look into the true nature of Ultron
If you hadn’t picked up an Age of Ultron comic before the film last year, you may have done so recently in an attempt to read into the character. After all, comic book villains tend to be one of the most interesting types of villain (I, for one, sympathise greatly with Magneto) and all because their lives seem to be so much more interesting. When I heard about the release of the film some years back, I was excited because I had already read an Age of Ultron comic and was eagerly, and hesitantly, awaiting what we would see on the big screen. Suffice to say, the trailers misled us into thinking it was a much bigger film than it actually turned out to be.
Let me explain. The MCU gave us a character created by Tony Stark, who was meant to help the world of heroes so they could take it easy. I mean, sure, he turned against everyone and ended up creating an army that proved to be a minor inconvenience. He also managed to upgrade himself and create one of the most powerful members of the Avengers that we’ve known to date. Throwing in Stark-isms every now and again, he spoke like Stark, thought like Stark and arguably copied his mannerisms. Ultimately, he was destroyed pretty quickly with a united effort from the heroes on the big screen that we’ve come to love and adore. But what if I was to tell you that this character is completely different to how he appears in the comics?
First off, as most of us are aware by now, Ultron was created by Hank Pym, accidentally. Pym has stressed numerous times to the Avengers that he was designing an AI and that Ultron manifested itself into its own creation. It built itself up from Pym’s ideas and carved its own image (something that Wolverine finds very hard to believe in his ill-tempered state).
Ultron quickly becomes so powerful and so unstoppable that the Avengers find it hard to fight him off. He creates an army of Ultron robots of adamantium that prove nigh-impossible to be destroyed. Every time a hero strikes one down, a swarm of Ultrons appear to kill the attacker. Eventually, the Avengers are forced to flee and to relocate underground. This is very much like the world he describes in the film, except that it’s real and the Avengers can’t do anything about it, even when they team up with the villains.
Ultron is so feared that he allows the Avengers to live if they are willing to sacrifice one of their own to him every month. Now that’s a hard choice to be left with. One that certainly doesn’t even come to pass in the film.
So, even though Pym creates Ultron (loosely speaking), Tony Stark most definitely didn’t. The blame flies thick and fast in the film with everyone, more or less, blaming Stark for not even thinking and about how it’s all his fault. In his defence, and rightly so, he states they were nowhere near succeeding. If you remember, Stark states that Strucker was “knocking on a very particular door” in relation to the fairly advanced robotics he sees in Sokovia.
When taken back to the lab, J.A.R.V.I.S. deciphers code from Loki’s sceptre. Ultron was already a thing before he was a robot. He manifests himself into the Iron Legion, overpowering J.A.R.V.I.S., and making a grand plan for himself using his already advanced AI system. So the fact that he uses Stark-isms here and there is really for comic relief rather than his true character. Marvel got it right in terms of his manifestation, but lost it again when Ultron took on a personality so unlike his own.
In the comics, Ultron creates two beings: the Vision and Jocasta. The Vision was meant to infiltrate the Avengers and to take them down from the inside, to seem like their friend when he was secretly their foe. Jocasta, on the other hand, was meant to be his partner. Both of them end up betraying him and joining the Avengers anyway.
Pretty ironic, huh? At least we see the Vision created in the film (except that he doesn’t really have an infinity gem, but that’s a different story) and catch a glimpse of Jocasta (she’s one of Stark’s backup AI systems), but that was really for the comic fans anyway. Naturally, it would be difficult to have included an extra being as well as an extra story line including the X-Men and Fury who end up travelling to the future in an attempt to defeat Ultron – it’s a long story.
The bottom line is, Tony Stark did not create Ultron – Ultron created himself. The original character was more menacing, much more sinister and too powerful to be stopped by anyone other than Pym (he rewrites his code in the past, which is actually quite clever). Marvel grabbed our attention with the trailers, but failed to deliver on the scale that so many of us where expecting. I think this is what let the film down the most, promising us so much but failing to reach that bar, making it unable to overtake Avengers Assemble, the 5th highest-grossing film of all time, when Avengers: Age of Ultron only came 7th.